Recently, I went to a belly-dance workshop. I thought it would be a pleasant change from writing, good for my lower back and a help with my weekly belly-dance classes. It did all that and taught me a whole lot more…
We started with Fish Pose. It’s a yoga asana, which, as well as allowing you to breathe deeply, opens up your heart centre. Your ribs are stretched wide to let air in your lungs, and you do feel rather exposed. Our teacher, Hannah Mi, wanted us to keep that openness, that vulnerability, throughout our dance.
In writing well, we have to do that too: offer our unguarded selves. The breath of inspiration can’t get into cramped bronchi.
Next she introduced her concept: The Walk of Intention. How you traverse the dance floor from the start would determine whether people watch you – or order another drink at the bar. It needs confidence – and a willingness to share. There’s generosity in that, rather than ego.
I think that goes for opening lines. There needs to be self-belief enough that the reader trusts you – and an open-handed giving which continues through the story.
As we went on, she commented on various hand gestures: how they were both strong and elegant. How posture conveyed, or rather revealed, pride. At points we were meant to look inwards, sometimes even melt and show our fragility, and yet always to engage with our audience. And for each one of us, we would dance the moves differently, according to our nature.
You can see where I’m going with this. We each have our creative voice, our style, and the more truthful it is to our inner selves, the more engaging. Yet that is risky. There’s a natural temptation to copy those we admire, to do what we think is expected. A good way to learn technique – but long term, it becomes a limitation.
More next week…